KINGSPORT, Tenn. (April 4, 2017) -- After nearly two decades serving as a church nurse in Holston Annual Conference congregations, Joy Eastridge heard God’s call to take the next step in her ministry and is now the first certified lay minister with the specialization of United Methodist parish nurse.
"I felt like it was an obedience issue, that in my spirit I was supposed to do this,” said Eastridge, who is in her 12th year as parish nurse at First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport. “I don't have full knowledge of what it means, of what God is calling me to do, but I have learned to be prepared. And whether it changes my ministry or not doesn't matter. I think it's more important that I be prepared.”
Eastridge started the process soon after United Methodist parish nurses were given the opportunity to earn a certification in their specialized ministry in March 2016.
Discipleship Ministries offers a parish nurse specialization for nurses through the certified lay ministry process, in consultation with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and the Global Health Division of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). GBHEM offers deacons or elders who are also parish nurses a certification in parish nurse ministry.
Jodi Cataldo, director of Laity in Leadership at Discipleship Ministries, said the certification opportunity for parish nurses provides a system of training, supervision, support and accountability through the established certified lay minister program.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for parish nurses should they choose to have the title of being connected to the United Methodist system,” Cataldo said. “As a certified lay minister, parish nurses like Joy are assigned by their district superintendent and are connected to their conference’s Committee on Lay Servant Ministries. This builds a much stronger support system within and connection to The United Methodist Church.”